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Sunday, December 1, 2013

UK-based aviation collector scouts for a IAF helmet

 By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Scott Bouchard, an aviation enthusiast and pilot equipment collector from Sharnford (Leicestershire, England) has put the Indian Air Force (IAF) on his radar. A technical specialist with Rolls-Royce Energy, the 31-year-old Scott is on a mission to source a flying helmet used by the IAF pilots.
Scott said he fell in love with the IAF assets after having a close look at the HAL-built Ajeet aircraft, while on a business trip to the US, in 2010. “I am very familiar with the Folland Gnat, so it was a pleasure to have a close look at the Ajeet. Any opportunity to link my hobby with the IAF would be quite interesting,” he said.
He inherited his interests from his father and late grandfather, who was trained to be a pilot during World War-II. “My grandfather was trained on the Tiger Moth, Steerman, and Harvard (T6 Texan). I was brought up in close proximity to Bruntinghtorpe airfield, which is home to many preserved classic jets,” says Scott.
Scott displays his aviation equipment collection with the public during the annual 'CockpitFest events' at the Newark Air Museum. “The idea is to inspire others and share knowledge. These displays generate lot of interest among the people. It's always a pleasure to have ex-Royal Air Force pilots thank you for preserving a little piece of history, as it brings back memories for them. And I also love it when children come along and want to try the helmets on,” said Scott.
Till date, Scott has collected around 30 helmets with oxygen masks, from the UK, USA, Russia, Poland, Spain and France. “My dream one day is to set up a museum of flying equipment. I am planning to put together a website as a virtual museum in order to share them,” explained Scott. Since the age of 11, Scott has been volunteering to help maintain two aircraft – T5-XS452 and T5-XS458 – in running condition.
An IAF official told Express that old helmets are generally sent to the logistics section after they are identified as 'not fit to use.' “In the IAF we follow a set of procedures even while discarding any equipment. There are also auctions at times,” the official said.
Scott says he works on a limited budget, while chasing his passion. “I am trying to build the collection as cheaply as possible, but if a purchase opportunity arises in India, I do have items I could sell, to raise the money for the helmet and postage costs. I have already spread the word to some of my Indian friends,” said Scott.
(Scott can be reached at: scott.bouch@gmail.com)
 
Copyright@The New Indian Express

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